Traveling to Greece, I had a lot of time to think about the work I would be doing here with refugees. On one plane, I put aside the articles I was reading, and just thought for a moment. After about a minute I found myself feeling angry. At first sad, then angry. Thinking about how I would come for just 3 months and then just leave. That I would be able to leave, while thousands of refugees remain in terrible conditions. And why, just because of where I was born? While others have had to flee homes, family, land, culture, and everything familiar, just to be caught in this broken system, run by fear. I felt this way, hardly knowing anything. Then I arrived. The day I toured Camp Moria taught me more. I stood in the new arrivals section of the camp, a camp designed to hold 2000 that now has 10,000 refugees, and observed people who have been sitting, some for days, just waiting to be admitted into the camp. And then here they will be, sometimes for years. I had to keep my sunglasses on as my eyes began to tear up at the pain I observed in the eyes of those around me, then feeling guilty because those same people around me, in true dire situations, weren’t crying.
In his email this week, Garrett wrote: “the word compassion literally means ‘to suffer with others.’ If we have compassion for someone, then we are willing to take a portion of their pain, to give a part of our heart and mind to them. We should not observe somebody else's problems and then just pass them off to Heavenly Father in prayer asking to help them.” The powers of a faithful prayer cannot be underestimated, but I believe pairing it with action is true compassion.
As I entered the sections of the camp we work in, I observed many things in many people. But then I taught an English class to a group of children whose childhoods have been ripped from them. When we got out the cups that they had each planted seeds in, i watched their eyes light up in delight that the seeds had sprouted. I saw so much joy and innocence in those eyes and smiles. And so while I don’t understand the injustices of the world, nor can I fix them all, I decided to choose hope, and to each day choose compassion, and to feel whatever that brings.